36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.
38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.
40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
There was not only a prophet, but also a prophetess within the temple. Besides being a prophetess, Anna's other ministry included devotion to prayer.
Note that the people described as seeking after God were the ones who recognized Jesus for who He really was, the Messiah, before everyone else. And in response, she gave thanks to God not only for what He had done, but for what she knew He would do through Him.
Anna’s recognition of what God was doing not only validated things for Joseph and Mary, but also gave them hope and reassurance that all they had experienced up until this point was not in vain.
Sure, there had been angelic visits and even glorious worship sessions in the sky, but the fallen human heart is given to doubt despite even heavenly reassurances.
Couple this with the fact that all of the law’s requirements had been met, and the “settling in” would have the effect of allowing small doubts to creep in.
Yet Luke does not offer us details. He only confirms for us what we, on this side of the story, already know: Jesus grew to be strong and wise as a human being, awash in the grace of God.
No doubt that Jesus’ character as a child served as confirmation for Joseph and Mary that God was at work in and through them. What He promised would come to pass.
●Advent is not only about Jesus’ first coming, but also about His second. What signs does God give us to assure us Jesus is coming again?
●What passages of Scripture are particularly helpful to you when you doubt God’s promises?
●Spend time in prayer asking for the faith to trust God for Jesus’ return and for His work in your life in the meantime.